Who is the Anti-christ?
Identifying Daniel’s Little Horn in Revelation
We begin our discussion of the anti-christ with this person coming out of the beast that we learned about in the previous article – “What is the Beast of Revelation?” This beast is the satanic kingdom at the end of our age. It is a spiritual kingdom not of this earth, whereas the anti-christ is a man that will expand the devil’s reign of evil in the last days.
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
The Great Tribulation Period is a brief group of events in the future that affects the entire earth as the greatest test in human history (Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21-22). People will align with the true God, or with the devil. The anti-christ is the designated leader during this period who arises out of the global system operated behind the scenes by the devil himself.
Before getting into the details, we should notice that God not only allows these events to occur but wills them to happen according to His plan. Romans 9:14-24 provides the background about God’s predetermination that we need to understand regarding the book of Revelation.
We see this concept about God’s will for government in Revelation 17:17 – for God has put it into their [world leaders] hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. Also, see 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.
Why would God allow so much power to the devil and the anti-christ? Quite simply, it is His plan to test the earth, so He uses them for His purpose.
Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Limited authority granted to the devil points back to Eden and the original rebellion against God. Afterwards, we notice in Luke 4:5-6 that the devil had been granted temporary rights to the entire earth. 1 John 5:18-19 states the deep reach of his impact over the lives of all unsaved people –
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
It is important to know the difference between the evil kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of Heaven. John explains the teachings of Christ about the devil and the world in many other passages, including these –
John 17:14-15 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Once we grasp that Christ created the world for His purpose and ultimately holds the reins over the world, we realize it is His intent to regenerate it through the cleansing process described throughout the book of Revelation. This is to fulfill the promised land prophecies that include bonus upgrades after the earth is transformed (Hebrews 11:8-16). To do that, He allows the devil to carry out His will, such as with the case of the Prostitute we examined in an earlier article – “Mystery Babylon the Great.”
The devil and his minions will dispense God’s judgment upon false religio-political systems of mankind. Revelation 19:2 states that this judgment is credited to God alone, while Revelation 17:16-17 reports how His sentence will be carried out by the beast and the world government.
Presently, Christ is in “waiting” mode while mediating sins until the devil is completely released onto the earth. Passages such as Acts 2:34-35 and Hebrews 10:12-13 are based upon the “footstool” reference from Psalm 110 that describes Christ’s current position. 1 Corinthians 15:21-26 explains more details about this concept that is related to the end times –
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Christ, being Lord over all kings of the earth today (Revelation 1:5), never stated that He has already fulfilled peace on earth (Matthew 10:34). He has obtained complete authority to rule and has the keys to the realm of the dead (Revelation 1:18), but He has not unlocked the door. Furthermore, Christ is not yet ruling with the rod of iron as mentioned in Psalm 2:7-9. This rod will come out at the 2nd advent that is prophesied in Revelation 19:15 –
From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
Peace on earth is to come at the beginning of the next age. Revelation chapters 20-22 depict peace on earth when Christs delivers the heavenly kingdom after defeating all enemies. The devil has been given certain authority until New Jerusalem comes from Heaven (Revelation 21:2-3). Until then, He is waiting for the “proper time” (1 Timothy 6:13-16). His kingdom on earth begins at the 7th trumpet that is concurrent with the 2nd advent.
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’
Christ has all authority in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18 and Ephesians 1:20-23) but He allows the devil to continue reigning over the earthly realm until the set time. The earthly, physical reign of Christ will be announced at the 7th trumpet with the mystery of God being revealed (Revelation 10:7). This is when He comes to earth and cleanses it.
The timing for all events is in God’s hands – Acts 1:6 He [Christ] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”
Matthew 24:36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows [can perceive], not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Now that we have briefly examined God’s authority and control over timing, we notice that there is someone or something holding back the execution of His plan for the end of the age. It is the “Restrainer” that is preventing the anti-christ from being revealed.
2 Thessalonians 2:6 And you know what is restraining him [anti-christ] now so that he may be revealed in his time.
The concept of restrainment is tied to authority. God has always been in control, as only He can allow the anti-christ to rise. These 3 passages describe this period of God’s authority as He releases end-time events – Daniel 12:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 and Revelation 12:7-9.
Some believe the restrainer is Michael or the Holy Spirit, however, the primary concept is about sovereignty. 2 Thessalonians 2 focuses on God’s providence over the situation, even though Michael is certainly involved during this period to do God’s work. Michael helps carry out the plan to banish the devil from the heavenly realm because the beast system will be authorized to rise on earth once again in its entirety. These developments allow the anti-christ to enter the world’s scene. There is a rapid chain of events that occur after God’s final countdown begins with the devil’s release.
Now we will examine the background passages about the anti-christ before trying to figure out all the references in the Book of Revelation. He is first described as the little horn that comes out of the last stage of the devil’s beast system. We start with the first mention of this most evil person in Daniel chapter 7 verse 8 –
I considered the horns [of the final beast], and behold, there came up among them another horn [anti-christ], a little one… And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
The most important aspect to consider about this verse is that he “speaks great things.” This is part of the future Abomination of Desolation that Christ mentions in Matthew 24 and Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2.
Daniel 7 provides us with many details about the anti-christ that Christ does not repeat in Matthew 24. This is because Christ implies we are to read and understand Daniel. Verse 11 of Daniel 7 states –
I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn [anti-christ] was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire…
The timing of the anti-christ is during the last days of this age. It is at the time of humanity’s last traditional government being abolished when the Prostitute system is destroyed (Revelation 17:16). The anti-christ rises during this period to fully establish the devil’s governmental and religious system.
The anti-christ is granted authority and allowed to conquer the saints for a short time (Revelation 13:7). This is the Great Tribulation Period.
Daniel 7:21-22 – As I looked, this horn [anti-christ] made war with the saints and prevailed over them,until the Ancient of Days came [the 2nd advent], and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
The events of Revelation 12:7-12 depict when the devil is granted to reveal his power publicly as the anti-christ. These passages are at the same time – Daniel 7:25 ~ Daniel 12:1 ~ Revelation 3:10 ~ Revelation 13:7
How do we know these are literal events that will occur in the future, since Daniel uses a lot of figurative language like the book of Revelation? Even though figurative language is used, we can associate the timing and attributes of these symbols to actual events. We need to correlate prophecies to find overarching themes. God wants us to read the entire Bible to understand His plans.
Daniel 7 verse 20 states that the little horn is “greater than [his] companions” of the 10 horns. Revelation 17 verse 12 also describes 10 horns. These are the “ten kings who have not yet received royal power” from the time when John wrote Revelation. From the two verses, we know that the 10 kings and the anti-christ are contemporaneous to each other beyond the 1st century.
Descriptions of the anti-christ from Daniel Chapter 7 and Revelation Chapter 13 parallel each other with these same identifiers –
- He comes out of the great beast with 10 horns
- He speaks complete blasphemy against God
- He is allowed authority to war over the saints in the tribulation period
- He is destroyed at the 2nd coming of Christ (Revelation 17:14)
Please see the Appendix for a comparison table of passages.
Daniel 7 verses 24 through 26 conclude the chapter with related descriptions of the anti-christ. Christ summarizes Daniel’s prophecies about the anti-christ in one brief passage that begins with verse 15 of Matthew 24 –
So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)
Christ does not provide details in the following verses of Matthew 24. He expects us to incorporate key prophecies of Daniel chapters 7-12, which speak about a previous abomination that is a foreshadow, and the final abomination of the last days.
What does the Abomination of Desolation mean? Paul explains this event when he depicts the anti-christ being revealed before the great Day of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
Paul sheds light upon the same abomination that Daniel and Christ spoke about. Now we understand the clear meaning of the great words and boasting of the anti-christ. He will proclaim to be God.
Paul states that the anti-christ will take his “seat” in the temple of God, while Christ states he will “stand” in the holy place. This is the same concept using different metaphors. The bottom line is that there will be a great rebellion against God in the Church, in Israel, and all throughout the nations of the earth. This is also the time that false religions are cut off (Revelation 17:16). It is not only that sacrifices of the Jews are affected, or that the Church has a falling away. The entire earth will be distressed (Revelation 13:7).
Matthew 24:21-24 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
We can correlate all the abomination passages where the anti-christ is speaking great things. We find he exalts himself as God and sets up the final false system of lies. However, it is only the beginning of the end.
And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name…
Later in the Chapter 13, there is a symbol of another beast who differs from the “mouth” coming out of the 1st beast. There are also similarities. The anti-christ and the 2nd beast speak for the 1st beast (speak like the devil), so they have the same result. Their combined message spreads and has a dominant influence on the entire earth.
Revelation 13:11-12 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence…
We notice a difference of the beast that rises from the sea (Daniel 7:3 and Revelation 13:1) compared to the 2nd beast rising from the land. The metaphorical location of the land reveals that the false prophets and false leaders are from mankind and come from the earth like Adam. The 1st beast is further stated to rise from the spiritual realm out of the pit of death (Revelation 17:8). These location terms lead us to consider their meanings.
The 1st beast rises from death (abyss, pit), by the spiritual connection to the nations of the earth called the sea (Revelation 13:1). This results from the demonic realm being called upon when the devil is forced (cast down, thrown) upon the earth as the Restrainer removes him from Heaven. After it rises, there is a connection of this 1st beast giving its authority to the 2nd beast of the earth (Revelation 13:12). The transfer of power shifts from the evil spirit realm to earth. A large group of followers are enlisted, not just the anti-christ being in allegiance with the devil.
We begin to conceptualize that the entire earth will move towards following the devil, except for those with names written in the book of life (Revelation 13:8). It will be like the time before the flood, as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39). The spread of evil will become amplified until Christ finally comes to save the elect (Matthew 24:21-31) and punish the followers of the devil (Matthew 25:31-46).
The anti-christ will be a man but will come out of the 1st beast (Daniel 7:8). He will become devil possessed, or a conduit. This person will amplify the end-time program into full motion so it can expand throughout the earth. The beast (devil’s spirit) will speak through this person with all power and authority. Revelation 13:5 describes the channeling effect of the devil through the anti-christ. The one working behind the curtain is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 – The coming of the lawless one [anti-christ] is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.
There are singular and plural nouns that describe channelers of the devil during the Great Tribulation Period. There is one male who is the anti-christ, and there are many false prophets and false leaders.
Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
The anti-christ will rise after the beast emerges, then others will follow him. This is the great rebellion that will extend throughout the entire earth. We need to consider the related terms to see the effects. One is that he will be “revealed.” This is associated with the rising term we have studied.
We see this term used three times in 2 Thessalonians 2 for the anti-christ (a.k.a. the little horn, the man of sin). The uprising is linked to the timing of the revelation of the anti-christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction
2 Thessalonians 2:6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
We know similar terms are used in this case, such as Christ warning us about “seeing” the Abomination of Desolation. The revelation of the anti-christ occurs visually and audibly. Examples are in the passages about the mouth that speaks “great things” and about visual acts of “signs and wonders.” The anti-christ and the beast’s followers will tell lies and produce false miracles, as shown in Matthew 24:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13-15.
We already know that religion and government are affected by the devil’s system, and we are also told that it will affect the most basic transactions of every person. Religions and governments vary throughout the earth now, however, they will be reduced towards a single system of one religion and one government that will include a required trade exchange system.
This brings us to the mark of the beast and how it relates to the anti-christ and the coming world system.
Revelation 13:16-17 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
Many people have tried to figure out the mark of the beast, or if the anti-christ is Nero or the return of Nimrod, or some other famous figure. We have missed the details given to us and the symbolic language that matches them. The mark of the beast and the anti-christ are great beacons of the warnings for all humanity. These warnings are crucial for us to understand.
Is the mark of the beast the number of man, or a man? Revelation 13:18 –
This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
In most other English passages, this exact Greek phrase translates as “of man”, not “of a man”. The root word can refer to an individual or mankind. Within the context, we should consider that all humanity is affected by the devil’s spiritual influence. The beast’s number means mankind in our interpretation, not an individual man’s number like the anti-christ. Mankind will enter an alliance with the beast system to control religion, government, and trade.
The key figure of the Great Tribulation Period is the devil, not the anti-christ. His target is humanity. The primary focus of this period is that God will use the devil to test the entire earth. For that reason, humanity will go through the greatest refinement of all time (Jeremiah 9:7, Daniel 11:35, Malachi 3:2).
Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
The tribulation days are “cut short” (Mathew 24:22) by God to save the remnant of the world (Isaiah 10:20-23 and Isaiah 66:18-21). The Day of the Lord is mentioned in Matthew 24:29-30 and the 6th seal of Revelation Chapter 6 to bring an end to the greatest tribulation of all time. The 2nd advent occurs at the end of the Day of the Lord period to save the righteous and the survivors of the nations.
Romans 9:27-28 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.”
We find interesting associations in these passages about the last days of those who do not repent to those who believe in lies –
2 Thessalonians 2:10b they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Daniel 12:10b but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.
2 Timothy 3:1-2a But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self.
When considering all related Scripture passages, we see that the anti-christ together with other false christs and prophets are leaders in the rebellion. God’s primary concern is found in the warnings to average people not to follow the path mapped out to the devil by these leaders.
The last details about the anti-christ are prophesied in Revelation 19:19-20. Daniel 7:11,22,26 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8. These passages are the same event that occurs at the end of the battle of Armageddon. It is the start of Christ’s earthly kingdom as He takes over the earth.
Revelation 19:20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
The term to be thrown “alive” into the lake of fire relates to the beast that takes its final earthly form in the body of the anti-christ. Daniel equated the little horn coming out of the final beast as its personification. The anti-christ and the devil’s spirit become one after the Restrainer allows the “big reveal.”
Daniel 7:11 I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire.
The beast that rises in the last days is the devil’s spiritual reign over earth as discussed in the Beast of Revelation. In this article we noticed that his spirit will possess a man as the anti-christ and spread to other people. The anti-christ will begin with the 10 kings as the 7th head of the beast (Revelation 17:9-11), then will become possessed as he “rises” from the 10 to meet the devil’s spirit as the completed 8th head of the beast.
This beast’s final form of the anti-christ will be destroyed by Christ (Revelation 17:14 and Revelation 19:19-20). However, the devil himself as an angelic being will live on for a little while longer according to God’s plan (Revelation 20:1-4).
The beast will come up from the abyss for one last hurrah as the anti-christ. However, he will never again have any spiritual influence over mankind’s governmental or religious systems once Christ sets up His eternal kingdom.
Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angelsin flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” All scripture quotes in italics.
All bold-face type within Scripture quotations has been added by the author for emphasis.
© 2021 by K.J. Soze